12 arrests after climate change activists strip in Commons as MPs debate Brexit
MPs were seen taking a glance up at the protest.
Police have arrested 12 people on suspicion of outraging public decency after climate change activists stripped off to stage a protest in the House of Commons while MPs debated Brexit.
A group of largely-naked Extinction Rebellion protesters with messages painted on their bodies stood up in the public gallery overlooking the debate on Monday night.
Some of the activists dressed only in underwear used superglue in an attempt to stick themselves to the glass which separates the gallery from the chamber.
MPs were seen taking a glance up at the protest and Speaker John Bercow maintained that the debate on the second stage of the Brexit alternatives would proceed despite the protest.
Scotland Yard said officers were sent in an attempt to “negotiate” with the activists, before adding: “12 arrests have been made for outraging public decency.”
Some of us did try to warn that no good would come of the Speaker allowing people into the House of Commons chamber without a neck tie ...— John Woodcock (@JWoodcockMP) April 1, 2019
Extinction Rebellion, which describes itself as a non-violent direct action and civil disobedience group, said the protest was an attempt to draw politicians’ attentions to the “climate and ecological crisis”.
Protester Savannah, an English literature student from Ladbroke Grove in west London, told the Press Association: “Everyone stripped and two people were elephants and had ‘climate crisis’ written on them.
“We were pointing at them as the elephants in the room of the Brexit debate.”
She added: “Personally I don’t care that much about Brexit.
“I think it’s fine that people do but I think there are bigger things right now.”
Nuala Gathercole-Lam, an Extinction Rebellion member from Haringey in north London, said there were 20 protesters in the public gallery, with 14 stripping and roughly eight sticking themselves to the glass with superglue.
“It’s a crazy thing to do but the situation is crazy – there is no Brexit on a dead planet,” she told PA.
Activist Oliver Baines, 68, a retired charity director from Cornwall, said he was protesting to put climate change higher up the agenda.
“This is a greater national crisis than Brexit,” he said.
The group of men and women stood up as Labour MP Peter Kyle was making a speech.
Another MP speaking during the protest, Tory Nick Boles, made a joke that his Brexiteer colleagues were “noted naturists”.
“It has long been a thoroughly British trait to be able to ignore pointless nakedness, and I trust the House will be able to return to the issue that we are discussing,” he added.
An Extinction Rebellion spokesman said the naked protest was an effort “to try and force the issue up the news agenda as far as possible so it breaks through the Brexit Radar”.
Extinction Rebellion named five of the protesters as 24-year-old wildlife biologist Iggy Fox; celebrant Isla Macleod, 34; counsellor Bell Selkie, 48; former teacher William Cooke, 36, and 35-year-old Mark Ovland.
Some had slogans including “climate justice act now” and “eco collapse” painted on their bodies. Those who became stuck to the glass were freed within roughly 30 minutes.
The activists touted a larger protest to take place on April 15.